Friday Forum Recap: Port of Portland

The Port of Portland holds 10,000 acres of property in the Portland region, including marine terminals, industrial parks, and three airports. People and goods from around the world come to Portland via the Port, but very few people know very much about what the Port does or how it works.

Last week, Curtis Robinhold, the Executive Director of the Port of Portland, shared details about the Port and took questions from the audience at City Club of Portland’s weekly Friday Forum. The conversation covered a wide range of topics and lines of inquiry. Here are a few that stood out.

Why Can’t I Fly to Paris?

Robinhold said the question he gets asked most is about direct flights. Everyone wants to know why their favorite city isn’t a regular route for major airlines. Unsurprisingly, it’s a question of economics. If the demand is there, airlines will service those routes. There is now a seasonal flight to London and many additional nonstop routes to other U.S. cities. Is Shanghai next? Robinhold is optimistic.

Equity a Priority

Robinhold said that hiring and retaining a diverse workforce at the Port is important to him and the organization. He said that managers have hiring targets in place and that those targets are used in performance evaluations.

He also believes that the Port can do more to increase opportunities for contractors. While there are not a lot of companies that are able to bid on a billion-dollar project, he’d like to see the pools of potential contractors widen. To that end, the Port has a mentorship program in place that matches contractors with Port employees and former contractors to guide them through the process and make sure they’re able to put together a strong bid.

Airport Wages

Workers at the Port of Portland make more than $15 per hour, but the contractors who hire food service workers and baggage handlers often pay much less. Robinhold says he supports “an overall increase in the minimum wage,” but doesn’t want to see it only applied to the Port.

“If we have a wage that’s different from surrounding markets, we start to throw off what street pricing looks like,” he said. “That’s the primary concern.”

Interested in hearing the full conversation? Listen here or watch the video broadcast at www.pdxcityclub.org/live.

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